Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley plants a fruit tree on the grounds of Ilaro Court today while British High Commissioner, Scott Furssedonn-Wood and his daughters Tessa and Romilly, look on. The tree planting was part of a precursor event to COP26. (A. Reid/BGIS)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has described the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) as a “vital meeting”.

Ms. Mottley made the comments today before she planted a tree on the grounds of Ilaro Court, as part of a precursor event to COP26, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.  British High Commissioner, Scott Furssedonn-Wood, also planted a tree at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

During the brief ceremony, the Prime Minster said: “COP26 is so vital a meeting because it requires us to summon the political will to be able to take decisions that will affect literally the lives of those of us…who live on small island developing states.

“But we also recognise that because the world has been so slow to act, that those living between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are now also affected. It is against that backdrop, therefore, that our voices will continue to be heard; that we will make the claims for justice and for morality to route the actions of countries.”

Ms. Mottley stressed that Barbados will go forward fighting. She said that while Barbados was asking the world to ‘step up to the plate’, the island had a duty to do similarly.

“Prior to COVID, we had hoped to plant a million trees. We had literally to put that one side because the same resources…in a small island, are doing multiple things….

“The Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Adrian Forde has been very, very passionate on this and therefore I look forward to his being able to resume this [tree planting] programme in 2022,” she stated.

The Prime Minister said Barbados and Britain had high ambition for next week’s meeting.  Without that high ambition, she added, Barbados would continue to pay a price because of the climate change.

“We now have with regularity these short, sharp, intense showers. It is absolutely critical for the Ministry of Public Works to have a consistent programme for the cleaning of wells.

“And what we’ve discovered upon coming in, is that there really has not been a proper record of the location of wells across this country. And the Government, like many other things, is seeking to put that in order now, because flooding means damage, [and] flooding means potential loss of life,” she disclosed.

Tessa Furssedonn-Wood waters a fruit tree which was planted today at Ilaro Court while her father, British High Commissioner, Scott Furssedonn-Wood and sister, Romilly, look on. (A. Reid/BGIS)

British High Commissioner Furssedonn-Wood said next week’s meeting would be the biggest ever gathering of world leaders in the UK, as over 130 leaders were expected. He too underscored the importance of the meeting, saying the decisions made would shape the future of the planet.  

He continued:” Prime Minister, we are particularly delighted that you will be there in Glasgow and that you will play such a prominent role, because we want your voice and the voice of other countries who are on the frontline of a climate crisis, that you didn’t create, …to be heard loud and clear.

“We want people to understand what is happening in this region – the challenge that you face from climate change, from sea level rises, from flooding, [and] from drought.  All of these things which represent something pretty close to an existential challenge for the people of this region.”

The British High Commissioner indicated that it was necessary for the world to understand that much more needed to be done for the countries affected by climate change and to stand with these states.

He added that the UK Government had worked tirelessly with governments around the world, including Barbados’, to ensure the success of COP26.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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